Dealing with disappointment

Maybe, like me, you’re feeling disappointed. It’s not just that it’s been a tough year. It’s also that it doesn’t look like getting easier anytime soon. Strict social distancing restrictions are back in place. Taking much needed holidays abroad aren’t possible. Everything’s getting postponed or cancelled. Not to mention the deep uncertainty surrounding social and political unrest. These difficulties prompt the question: how do you deal with personal disappointment?

I recently read something that’s helped bring me some perspective on this question. The Bible invites you to look four places.

We love the wrong things too much, and we don’t love God enough.

First, look upward. Disappointment can make you feel lonely, that people don’t understand what you’re going through. Hebrews reminds us that Jesus can empathize with our weaknesses, that he has been tempted like we are, yet he did not sin. Therefore, we can go to him for comfort and grace (Heb 4:15-16). 

Second, look inward. Disappointments tell us a lot about our own heart. They’re an indication of our desires. The size of our disappointment can often reveal inordinate or misplaced desires. We love the wrong things too much, and we don’t love God enough. In other words, our disappointments unmask those things that we value more than God.

Third, look around. Experiencing suffering gives us the perspective and empathy to comfort others. The Apostle Paul speaks about how we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God (2 Cor 1:4). Think about those around you who are struggling. How can you minister to their needs by giving them a call, meeting with them, or providing practical care? 

Fourth, look ahead. The disappointments of this world remind us that things aren’t as they should be. However, Christians are people who are shaped by hope because Jesus has conquered death. We look forward to his return and our heavenly home, where there will be no sin and brokenness, pain and hurt, tears and death. This hope gives us a joy that no disappointment can take away.